The business of wedding budgets

Something New

One of the first things any engaged couple does is attempt to set a budget for the wedding, and I say 'attempt' because the cost doesn't necessarily stay below your set goal; actually it often doesn't, because, as we discover as we go, weddings are way more expensive than we think.

And no matter how many episodes of Four Weddings you watch, you'll likely be surprised by the cost of something or another and, slowly but surely, your budget will start creeping up and up and up. Sometimes this is no fault of our own; sometimes photographers are booked up a year and advance, and the next thing you know, you're 'stuck' with one that costs a thousand more than you wanted to spend. Yuck.

If it's not the cost of the big things that surprise you, it's the cost of all the little things you don't think about adding up; liquor licenses, dÉcor, event insurance (on some venues) or a tent if your outdoor ceremony is threatened by rain to name a few.

Because of these things, the closer you get to your wedding date, and the more you get done, the more you realize how unrealistic your original budget was.

Out of all my close friends getting married this year (six!), I have the lowest budget by far; not because I'm the poorest, but because my sister's budget was relatively cheap and everything looked great. From that experience, I figured it's not hard to put on a great wedding without having to go bankrupt for it.

For David and me, we don't want our wedding costing us a ton of money. Yes it's an important day, but in the end, it's only one day, and we'd rather use that money to pay down our debt or put it towards a home.

One big thing this means is no open bar, which sucks because when we see our other friends having open bars, it kind of makes us feel like 'the cheap couple,' or we worry that they'll judge us for not having one, but it is what it is, and we had to draw a line somewhere. Open bars are very expensive, after all.

The open bar is really the only big thing that will 'suffer' due to a tighter budget. Everything else - the food, the dÉcor, the venue, the photographer, cake, flowers - are all top quality, which makes me wonder why some people need to spend $50,000 and upwards on a wedding. Is it really that necessary? I'm also wondering what on earth they're spending that money on. Solid gold wine goblets? Cakes sprinkled with diamond dust?

I guess what it comes down to is what a couple is willing to spend on their wedding. Obviously if they're well off, they're likely to spend more and have a bit of an extravagant wedding. But if you're not a wealthy couple, or if you just don't want to spend a ton of money on your wedding like us, it's also perfectly possible to have an impressive wedding without busting the bank; it's just a matter of being smart about what you choose, and being willing to sacrifice more time by doing a lot of things yourself (DIY dÉcor, etc).

Here are some tips for saving some cash on your Big Day: consider getting your cake(s) or flowers from a big grocery store instead of smaller, individual bakeries/florists; make a lot of dÉcor yourself; don't use flowers as centerpieces if you can find something else (very expensive), and force rental shops to compete for you (they'll sometimes match or even lower prices to get your business).

If you apply some of these, or give up on the open bar idea, you'll save thousands of dollars and your wedding won't suffer for it either. And in the end, you'll have a bit more cash for a nice honeymoon.

That's what we're doing, and we know for a fact that our wedding's going to look like a million dollars. And that's all we want.

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